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Survivor 45 revealed how it’ll use its extra 30 minutes. Oh no!

Survivor 45 revealed how it’ll use its extra 30 minutes. Oh no!
Jeff Probst's head features prominently in the promotional poster for Survivor 45, which will have 90-minute episodes for the entire season (Image by CBS)

CBS announced a few details about Survivor 45 today, including its cast—though that had already been revealed starting back in May by Inside Survivor. (The new players are listed below.)

What really caught my attention was a single sentence in the press release, which gave us a glimpse into what will fill the additional 30 minutes of airtime that Survivor will have each week.

First, CBS revealed that Survivor is the “most-watched reality show on Paramount+,” which is interesting because both The Challenge and Big Brother stream there, too.

The release also pointed out that we’ve already had 652 episodes of Survivor (!), and calls this “the biggest season of the greatest game ever played.”

The expansion is not on the contestants’ side of the game; they will be limited to 26 days, as has become the new, cost-saving normal.

How Survivor will expand to 90 minutes

A man wearing a blue shirt and standing arms akimbo on a beach
Jeff Probst, host and showrunner of Survivor 45 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

When The Amazing Race 35 announced its teams last week, its co-creator Elise Doganieri explained in an interview why TAR season 35 was actually the 36th season filmed: They’d already edited season 35 into hour-long episodes.

Thus, Amazing Race’s producers were able to plan an entire season knowing they had 90-minute episodes to fill, which Elise said meant they could “put more locations in, include more creative.” She also said that they’d “let the story play out a little more, get to know the relationships between contestants a little better” and include some of “that we don’t get to show in the series because we have to cut it down for the one hour episodes.”

I kind of hoped the same would be the case for Survivor: with more air time, the producers could plan for more content to fill 90-minute episodes—especially considering past 90-minute episodes sometimes felt overly padded.

Here’s how CBS describes Survivor 45:

Viewers will watch as castaways form a society and adapt to their physical and social surroundings while contending with treacherous new elements and navigating an ever-shifting social game. This determined group will be divided into three tribes of six and face a faster, grittier season from the moment they step on the beach. The moral dilemmas and extreme situations will test even the strongest competitor, and the mental and physical challenges require players to constantly evolve their strategies to survive another day.

The dynamic individuals competing on the milestone 45th season are from diverse backgrounds and bring fresh perspectives to this new era of the game, with the same ultimate goal: to outwit, outplay and outlast. And in the end, only one will remain to claim the title of Sole Survivor and win the $1 million prize.

That sounds pretty normal. But I left off the first sentence, the scary one:

Through longer weekly episodes, Survivor will take a deeper dive into the players’ stories as they’re stranded on the stunning islands of Fiji.

Yes, “a deeper dive into players’ stories.” Deep breaths.

Look, I love character development. The Real World was my show back in the 1990s because I was able to spend time with people unlike those I knew in my everyday life. On competition shows, I like getting to know who’s playing.

But at the same time that Survivor’s cast was diversified, Survivor shifted the way it edited episodes, too often turning that backstory into clunky packages that interrupted the actual game.

Instead of learning organically about the players like we did in early seasons, from their behavior and their interaction with each other, we instead were treated to exposition dumps. That’s not to diminish any of the cast members’ life experiences, of course, just the awkward way those biographical elements were shared with viewers.

I’m probably overreacting to a single sentence, but I fear that Survivor can actually make that worse. American Ninja Warrior and America’s Got Talent have turned themselves into inspiration porn by giving more time and attention to bio packages than actual competition, or by repeating the same character note over and over again.

I pray to the Survivor gods that’s not what we get for an entire half-hour (or more!) every episode of Survivor 45. The editing did seem to improve during Survivor 44, so there is hope.

Perhaps this is also better than filling a half-hour with more twists or producers having their own fun!

But I also would have just loved to see, say, a reward challenge in every episode, with an actual reward trip, instead of a visit to the Survivor Sandcastle of Shitty Food. (I know it’s actually “The Sanctuary.” I just don’t like typing that word.)

Survivor 45’s cast

A group of 18 people posing in two rows on a beach, with the ocean and an island behind them
Survivor 45’s cast (left to right, top row): Nicholas “Sifu” Alsup, Kendra McQuarrie, Brandon “Brando” Meyer, Kaleb Gebrewold, Drew Basile, Sabiyah Broderick, Austin Li Coon, and Bruce Perreault. (bottom row) Kellie Nalbandian, Hannah Rose, Julie Alley, Jake O’Kane, Janani “J” Krishnan-Jha, Sean Edwards, Katurah Topps, Dee Valladares, Emily Flippen, and Brandon Donlon. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS)

Among the cast members is one familiar face, Bruce Perreault, who was medically evacuated during the first episode of Survivor 44, and also a name you may recognize because he’s a super-active member of the Survivor community online: Brandon Donlon.

Here’s the cast, and their occupations, according to CBS:

  • Julie Alley, 49, Brentwood, Tenn, estate attorney
  • Nicholas “Sifu” Alsup, 30, O’Fallonn, Ill., gym owner
  • Drew Basile, 23, Philadelphia, grad student
  • Sabiyah Broderick, 28, Jacksonville, truck driver
  • Austin Li Coon, 26, Chicago, grad student
  • Brandon Donlon, 26, Sicklerville, N.J., content producer
  • Sean Edwards, 35, Provo-Orem, Utah, school principal
  • Emily Flippen, 28, Laurel, Maryland, investment analyst
  • Kaleb Gebrewold, 29, Vancouver, software sales
  • Janani Krishnan-Jha (stage name: J. Maya), 24, Los Angeles, singer
  • Brandon “Brando” Meyer, 23, Seattle, software developer
  • Kendra McQuarrie, 31, Steamboat Springs, Colo., bartender
  • Kellie Nalbandian, 30, New York, critical care nurse
  • Jake O’Kane, 26, Boston, attorney
  • Bruce Perreault, 47, Warwick, Rhode Island, insurance agent
  • Hannah Rose, 33, Baltimore City, therapist
  • Katurah Topps, 35, Brooklyn, civil rights attorney
  • Dee Valladares, 26, Miami, entrepreneur

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Happy discussing!

Kyle

Monday 18th of September 2023

I've watched every season of Survivor, but find the last several years the show has become soft. I don't like the back story crap, nor do I care for family visits or letters. Survive without. Dang!

I agree the tribes are LESS diverse. Hey CBS: the Boomers aren't all dead yanno!

I also miss the earlier seasons' hard-core challenges - including some gross eating challenges.

Oh yeah, and now there's also too many variables on hidden idols, advantages, etc. I'd prefer more consistency here.

Even in the worst conditions, a few weeks in Fiji is most survivable. I've been there and done that.

Josh

Monday 11th of September 2023

I thought maybe we'd get more tribal council since they say it can last so long sometimes and then we only were getting ~10 minutes of it to watch.

Really wish they would have taken the same approach as TAR and done something fresh with the extra time. 🫤

James Pats

Friday 8th of September 2023

You really can never be pleased, can you? First news that comes out and you’re upset about it.

Andy Dehnart

Friday 8th of September 2023

I wouldn't want to disappoint you, James!

Melissa

Thursday 7th of September 2023

Well, fuck my old boots, that is NOT the extra 30 minutes I want to see.

~ZZZ~

Tuesday 12th of September 2023

@Melissa, HAAAAAAAAA! I LOVED that one! Nandor ~ Did I win? I think I won.

Melissa

Tuesday 12th of September 2023

@~ZZZ~, That's awesome! I can hear Laszlo calling for the Creature of the Night. Reminds me of one of my favorite episodes where they defeated the werewolves by throwing squeaky toys off the roof. 😂

~ZZZ~

Tuesday 12th of September 2023

@Melissa, YES! Both of their voices and the way they talk just kill me and I LOVE it so much! I named my dog after Lazlo. He' got white fur, and in Lazlo's voice I say Even though his fur is white, he's named for a creature of the night!

I'm shocked that there is a website that realizes that swearing isn't the end of the world, and nothing to get offended by! THANK YOU Andy!!

Melissa

Monday 11th of September 2023

@~ZZZ~, I just typed it? This is one of the few sites I visit that allows it. I am also in love with Nandor! But Laszlo gets some great lines and Matt Berry's delivery is impeccable. :)

~ZZZ~

Monday 11th of September 2023

@Melissa, How did you get away with that word? Heee! (I'm not offended, it's one of my favorite words!) And MAJOR points for quoting WWDITS!! I am in love with Nandor and the whole show!

Lauren

Thursday 7th of September 2023

I really hope this is done by showing interactions with people on the island, rather than footage from their home lives as they've started doing recently. I want to get to know the contestants but don't want to be taken out of the game to do that.